Grab a napkin and loosen your belts because this food scene is about to take your palate on one tasty ride. From native-inspired Key lime pie, fried grouper, and chili with gator to the city’s signature Cuban sandwich that immigrant cigar factory workers introduced in the early 1900s, the culinary offerings in Tampa, Florida are a smorgasbord of flavors. Unlike many foodie destinations, the restaurants here remain affordable and an unpretentious dining experience for vacationers. Let’s look at some of Tampa’s best restaurant stops.
Ten Fantastic Tampa Restaurants You Don’t Want To Miss
1. Edison: Food + Drink Lab
Every visit is a new experience. Executive chef Jeannie Pierola uses a “product+technique+creativity2” kitchen formula to craft modernized and affordable versions of every type of food experience under the sun. The menu changes daily, meaning you may have to wait a bit for the Espresso Cocoa Guajillo Chili-Crusted Magret Duck Breast and Kung Pao Beer Belly to reappear.
Ybor City entertainment district is a must-see, and you’ll find Due Amici at the same 7th Street location its been for over a quarter of a century. The in-house pizza dough and handcrafted sauces with Italian-grown tomatoes make for the perfect end to a family day or night out at the local bars. Go with a lighter option like the Fresca Pizza, or you can branch out with a creamy White Pizza or the savory Lasagna Pizza.
You’ll feel like you’ve just found home at this cozy and eclectic Seminole Heights cafe. The mix of music, arts, and southern staple foods is designed to make you “praise the lard.” Don’t confuse staple foods with bland; this is a place that turns mashed potatoes, poblano, and mozzarella into a chimichanga. Whether it’s a burger, steak, pot pie, salad, or pizza, the dish gets that same special Ella’s spin on it. Stop by on Soul Food Sunday to get special treats like Fried Chicken and Waffles and an array of barbecue items.
If you’re looking for an Indian restaurant that’s stayed true to its roots in both decor and foods, then Rasoi is it. Whether it’s curries or tandooris, you won’t find a menu dumbed down for the western tastebuds at Rasoi. They also have a lunch buffet to give you a sampling of all your favorite Indian foods, including bhaji, korma, and tikka masala.
5. The Refinery
“Eat. Drink. Confabulate.” Chef Baker founded the restaurant on the idea that good food should be available to everyone as a necessity, not a right held by the rich. He uses classic French technique, inspiration from Floridian culture, and farm to table methodology to bring a small menu with big impact to life each week. Everything is made from scratch, and the menu changes anywhere from once to four times per week.
This family-owned cafe deli has been serving up their signature Mustard Sauce and Bucket Bread for over five decades. The Golden Gate, which includes roast pork, crisp bacon, Jarlsberg cheese, German dill pickle, mustard sauce, and peach chutney, is a crowd favorite. Plan wisely because they close early and usually have a long line.
The small fish shack may not look like much, but it’s serving up some creative takes on seafood favorites, including a mean blackened shrimp on a bed of yucca, lobster corn dogs, and grouper and coleslaw on rye.
It’s a local favorite for casual artisan bakery goods like frittatas, scones, croissants, strudels, and muffins for breakfast and hearth-fired pizzas, sandwiches, and salads for lunch. The evening menu, environment, and service remain straightforward and simple but take a more elegant approach with traditional fine dining staples like scallops, filet mignon, and red wine short ribs.
9. Saigon Deli
Your elbows may stick to the table and your feet may squeak across the floor, but this is your go-to place in Tampa for traditional and affordable Vietnamese cuisine. Pork pho, grilled pork banh mi, bun bo hue, and the spicy soup are some of the local favorites.
This list simply wouldn’t be complete without including the place most locals say has the best Cuban, right? It’s a daylight only sandwich shop with decor that mainly consists of a hodgepodge of old photos and tables and chairs, but it was certainly good enough for President Obama to eat a Tripleta Sandwich at back in 2012